Wednesday, July 30, 2014

The Fifth Season

I've returned to watching NewsRadio again these days, largely because I enjoy the show's dynamic and characters, and also because I love Beth. And Phil Hartman. It's a good comedic show with great actors.

It's gone quite a bit further this time, because I've been actively searching for the seasons on DVD. I ended up at CD Warehouse after pointlessly looking in HMV at Bayshore, which is nothing but a haven of women's fashion and lingerie stores. They had the first two seasons together. Then I surprisingly found the 5th season at Giant Tiger when my mother wanted to go browsing around there to my annoyance. I bought it simply because it was there, it was a DVD, there'd be commentaries and more weird images of Matthew and attractive ones of Beth on the cover. Why do I say this? I never watched the fifth season. I was never interested. I didn't want to watch something that had a void left by Phil Hartman and no doubt not actually filled by Jon Lovitz. I didn't think it would really work without him there.

Having the DVD, I had to watch it now. Maybe the series found a way to redeem itself after it was left in disarray due to Hartman's murder. I didn't know. I watched it.

Firstly, Giant Tiger sold me a useless copy as the first DVD disc does not play in my Mac or my DVD player, no matter what. I was left to watch the other two remaining discs, causing me to miss an entire plot arc in the first half of the season. Ironically, I have seen the first episode before - I went right ahead and watched it when it was available on Netflix because I wanted to see how the cast was considering Hartman had then-recently passed away. It was a good episode; I felt their pain, which was very real, no fake tears whatsoever. I saw that one awhile ago.

Anyway, I'll just copy and paste what I put on Facebook: Critically, the first three and a quarter seasons are awesome. The final season is a caricature and silly absurd cartoon of a Phil Hartman-less product. Eh. Good things always come to an end.

On - you guessed it - Wikipedia, in the articles for each season, it is noted on the fourth episode of the fourth season that "the writers by this point felt that NewsRadio had lost touch with reality and essentially became a cartoon." It was increasingly relevant in the latter half of the fourth season, but in a good way that still felt normal and funny in an absurd way (Phil Hartman had perfect execution). By the fifth season...it seems ghostly strange and unusual and bleak and just off. Abnormal.

I got the sense that by that point virtually all of the actors weren't nearly into it anymore, both due to Hartman's absence as well as the simple fact that they'd been doing this for four years now and both the writers and the actors seemed stretched for good comedic plot-lines. It seemed to me that a few of the actors (Dave Foley, Maura Tierney, Vicki Lewis, Stephen Root) looked like they were almost too old for this kind of thing anymore. Dave Nelson's patience and direct level-headed approach as a news director appeared to have eroded away to an inane careless This-isn't-a-normal-workplace-let's-let-things-slide-anyway persona; Jimmy James babbles so much he sounds ridiculous; the entire environment no longer looks and seems and feels like an AM radio station - rather, it looks like a place for people to run around blowing each other's personal feuds into each other's faces while extras you never see or hear sit in the broadcast booth, forgotten in the background. Lisa becomes irrational and out-of-character and marries a homeless man played by Patrick Warburton, who was apparently "evil" and took over Jimmy James' empire after having him imprisoned. Beth was always a quirky character from the start, which I always loved, but when she falls for Max's leaving-to-make-Beth-sad scheme at the last second and starts wailing like a pre-teen...even for her that's over-the-top.

In spite of all the negative nit-picking, I'm kind of glad I did watch the final season (three-quarters of it). I got to see it finish. The ending made some real sense and had a last-second true spirit of NewsRadio humour in it. Dave walks through the empty floor, into his empty office - only to find Matthew hiding under his desk, having never left with the rest of the cast for New Hampshire. Matthew gleefully offers a variety of duties to be done for Dave, all reminiscent of each character's on the show, before gleefully saying "it's just me and you forever, Dave!" Dave smiles in a way that suggests he's going insane before stuttering that it really is the reality before him - then goes to credits. It leaves me feeling bittersweet, because I was expecting Dave to rush out of the building after the rest of the cast over the credits, which didn't happen. It made sense from a comedic standpoint - but I kind of wish he joined the rest of the people he spent four years with.

The bottom line of this is what I said above: All good things come to an end. Like I said in my review of this series last year, it's the kind of thing I wish I could un-watch only to re-watch it with that original first-time experience. The first season was amazing. The second and third season - awesome. The fourth - pretty good. The fifth? Eh. Like every show, it had its peak. It was such a warm, happy start to something that continued on with great characters and chemistry...then continued on, and eventually got cartoonish and silly and old. I like to think it was a combination of the quality of writing and Hartman's death, but either way, no matter what, good things always come to an end. It's a bitter and unfortunate aspect of life. And Lovitz tried - he did a pretty good job, even though he could never fill the gaping hole Phil Hartman left. I give him credit for trying.

Anyway, that's it for NewsRadio. I'll keep looking for the third and fourth seasons on DVD, and I'll continue to enjoy those, but you know, I hope everyone in that cast - Dave Foley, Stephen Root, Maura Tierney, Khandi Alexander, Vicki Lewis, Joe Rogan, and of course Andy Dick - I hope they find time to all reunite and see each other again, just to relive the magic of each other's company from the great old days of the show. They virtually seem like a family. They don't have to create a new show - just spend some time together. Top it off with a nice framed photograph of Phil Hartman or something.

Sigh. So bittersweet.

Red Cloud
"

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

C# Major/Minor

I have a lot to write so I'll start with this - which is long overdue.

C# is the first black key, one semi-tone from C, one half-step. It sits between C and D. You could also refer to it as Db major/minor (I don't have a proper flat sign) but I'll be sticking to the sharps because they're just something I use entirely over flats (and again, I don't have a proper flat key on my Mac's keyboard and would rather not go to lengths to have to find one to copy here, repeatedly).

If you read what I have below about major/minor differences on the previous posts, go ahead and skip this - it's just for newcomers reading this.

A note on major/minor:
There is an obvious difference between a major and a minor. Wikipedia naturally describes a minor chord has differing "from a major chord in having a minor third above the root instead of a major third." In other words, the third key from the first on a keyboard (not in the chord or scale) would simply be moved a key to the left. In C major, the notes are C-E-G. E is three keys from C; move one key to the left and you're now on E flat or D sharp. Hence C minor. The "minor third" just means the third note in a minor scale.
Ear-wise, the difference is also obvious because minor chords sound darker and moody and tentative while major chords are bright and happy and powerful in contrast. If you've heard any sad songs, they're likely built around a minor scale progression and use minor chords. 'Not Home Today' uses mostly minor chords (E minor and B minor) and is a song about an unfortunate circumstance, with a doom-filled ending. 'Around the Bend' uses largely major chords and is a happy song about friendship and good times. Of course, not all songs operate this way - 'I'm Sorry' by The Payolas has bright chords yet talks about a sellout musician. 'Alive' by Pearl Jam has what people have referred to as an anthemic sound, with great strong major guitar chords and progressions, yet it's about a man who discovers his father died long ago and his mother is virtually attracted to him thanks to his resemblance to his father.


Inversions

The thing about inversions - where the root note is not the lowest or first note played in the chord - is that it's all the same for every chord major or minor: It's either darker or brighter, in terms of colour as well as personality (though slightly, and it's perhaps more on the main personalities' view or opinion or feeling on something).


Major:

Colour: Faint pink, with white.
Light: Cloudy but bright.
Spatial Direction: East
Texture: Soft, like cloud.
Gender: Feminine

C# major on its own without any respective context to music around it is a nice in-between chord for both C and D major. C major is a bright, happy yet down to earth chord, while D major is just plainly happy and considerate, very friendly. C#major could easily be a sister to both chords, or a cousin. She's got a very optimistic point of view and can have her head in the clouds dreaming happily. At the same time she can be direct and get things done. She is good at making goals and working at them; if she has something envisioned for the future, she might be dreamy about it at first, but then she'll make it happen and get there. She's got a warm personality. I'm not sure who I could fit into that chord as a person other than girls I was aware of in school who were noticeably bright, friendly, and on the honour roll. Girls on the Athletic Council seemed like that to me. The only song I can thing of right now that uses C#major is 'Ah! Leah' by Donnie Iris, which uses that note and chord throughout the entire song. The soundtrack to that Breakin' movie from the early 80s uses C#major as its opener and chorus, which is what drew me into the song.

Minor:

Colour: Dull white, some grey texture.
Light: Cloudy and dull.
Spatial direction: East, southeast.
Texture: Rainy, fluid.
Gender: Feminine.

C# minor is the girl with the more reserved, darker outlook. She isn't moody or depressed, but she's cautious and has a negative past. As a result she has a very particular viewpoint of everything, and a precise sense of self-empowerment from her adversities - it didn't kill her, it made her stronger. Therefore she takes her opinions and her perspectives and sees them as defining and more important or relevant than other peoples' because they can't understand what she's had to go through. I knew someone like that for a brief while. 'All That She Wants' by Ace of Base uses that chord (inverted) on the piano throughout the whole song; Chris Foreman of Madness picks each note in the chord on the guitar (that and B minor) throughout the song 'Memories' (the introduction is of the guitar picking each note of both chords from low high strings on the guitar, which sounds melancholy but quite appealing and beautiful). The chord tends to make me think of rain, particularly rain falling on a plaza without observable borders, just a shiny white concrete tarmac glistening in the rain as people with umbrellas walk through it in coats. And it's in Europe somewhere.

Well, I'm happy I finally got to starting the sharps/flats. I'll do D# major/minor sometime soon.

Red Cloud
"

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

"Tour The City"

Tour The City is a planned concept album by musical outfit Unknown Individuals. It is a project planned for the future when chief multi-instrumentalist, songwriter and studio engineer Red Cloud gets his studio fully built and his contributors lined up. The album mixes simple Ottawa landmarks and geography into stories of the whimsy, absurd, and serious.

Track Listing:

1. The Hill
2. Monument
3. The Bar
4. On the Lake
5. The Driveway
6. Mr. Blue's Blog
7. Merivale Road
8. Central Experiment
9. Grand Chauteau
10. The Belt
11. Meeting Place on the White Bridge
12. Affair at the Minto

13. The Rink

The songwriter uses metaphor and literary elements to mix Ottawa geography and landmark together with themes of irony and drama. For example, while 'The Rink' can refer to the Rideau Canal, the "world's longest skating rink," it is actually a comment on the availability of defibrillators in indoor ice rinks in the city, and follows the story of a man who has an untimely heart attack while skating on the canal where, ironically, no defibrillators are available. 'The Driveway' is about a domestic disturbance set in a suburban driveway, with the neighbours all present. It was taken from the Queen Elizabeth Driveway which follows the city's canal on the west side. 'The Belt' is a reference to the Greenbelt, and is a story of indecency between a teacher and a teenage girl.

The musical direction ranges from alternative rock to fourth-wave ska. 'The Hill' has a bright, energetic sound whereas 'The Driveway' has a more subdued progression. 'Merivale Road' has stylistic similarities to The Police song 'So Lonely.' The whole thing has yet to be written (with 'Merivale Road' the exception) but it is on the bucket list as they say.

--

It's been in my mind for weeks. I wrote the tracklist down in a Word document and made minor changes here. I have general ideas about what half of those titles will be about, in particular 'Merivale Road' which I've already demoed, and 'The Driveway.' The rest are all minor fleshed-out ideas which I think aren't too bad. Most of it is from personal experience except for 'The Rink' which is a nice story of irony. I have a few musical ideas for 'The Driveway.' It starts on B - a subdued note/chord.

Anyway, that's all I'll say for now. I think it's a neat literary idea to mesh Ottawa landmarks - Parliament Hill, the canal, the Chateau Laurier, Barrhaven, Dow's Lake, Minto subdivisions/Place, the Greenbelt, the Central Experimental Farm, the Mer Bleue Bog, the Queen Elizabeth Driveway, all the monuments, Mooney's Bay with its white bridges, and Merivale Road as fronts for these stories and comments and experiences. From ironic heart attacks to illicit relationships, summery affairs on the lake to public domestic disputes.

Red Cloud
"

Another old Childhood Movie

Sorry about my lack of starting the rest of the notes. I think it's something I've been procrastinating on considering it's a new thing to start apart from the white keys. And this has my attention now because I only watched it last night.

The last time I watched Mousehunt was when I was in my early teens, about thirteen. It was a movie my paternal grandparents had when I was younger (it came out in 1997). I remember sleeping over a number of times and watching it before bed with my cousin Jeremy.

They gave me their VHS of it to me at some point early in the last decade, but I never watched it much by that point. Yesterday, even though I still have the VHS, I tried locating the DVD of it and was unsuccessful. When I tried watching it on my VCR - I still have one - it had stopped functioning for the first time in thirteen years. So with no other options, I went the online way and let my adult mind take it apart.

It's my kind of film in terms of comedy thanks to the levels of absurdity almost constantly thrown in. And my kind of absurdity is, get this, limited to a point. Really. I tried watching Airplane! with my mother once. I found the entire thing, which almost everyone thinks is comic absurdity at its most hilarious, silly and ridiculous. Really. I guess there comes a point in the absurd where it looks completely invented and unnecessary and rather childish. Mousehunt has a lot of absurd scenes, but they're built up as a short comedy of errors ending in an absurd, impossible way rather than quick scenes that are really simple gags. For example, main character Ernie chases the mouse into the chimney flue. Lars gets a flashlight when he gets stuck; it stops working while the mouse disappears and opens a gas valve. Lars strikes a match, sending himself flying backwards into a china cabinet and Ernie fire-streaking into the night sky, looping over into the frozen lake. Someone in air traffic control mentions brass instruments and there's a sudden scene of the cockpit transformed into a brass band. Uh-huh.

The film's premise is relatively simple. Two brothers own an out-of-date string factory after their father dies. One could care less and would rather sell it. Turns out their dad left them an old house which turns out to be a missing architectural masterpiece. They need money after one loses his restaurant and the other's wife throws him out. They set up an auction for affluent bidders to buy the house. There's a mouse in the house. It needs to be removed.

The film has its positives and negatives. It builds the humour up very well. There are a lot of extra little moments that are quick but funny (e.g., Ernie is trying to hit the mouse with a broom in the kitchen, and in doing so flips a bowl into his face). Lars' high-pitched voice is something to laugh at now and then. Then again, the scenes are often kind of jumpy, sometimes too sudden. At the end of the film, a ball of string cheese rolls to the two brothers at the end of the belt, and when Ernie notes that it's cheese, they look up and - whoa! the mouse is shown in all its glory - and then out of nowhere the factory is now a string cheese factory, in full operation, with everything basically resolved. The mouse is a taste tester.

The mouse itself is quite a tenacious character, performing a lot of things that are virtually impossible. I mean that in the physical sense, because the mouse is obviously for the film's sake got human-level intelligence. That or the brothers' father's spirit has transferred into it, which has risen in my mind once or twice. What I wonder is how the mouse inserted the end of the vacuum hose into a sewage pipe, or how it took Caesar's remote camera, routed it through tiny holes and over narrow pipes, and tied it to the winch on his van? It couldn't possibly have weighed enough to depress the handle of the device. Then again, it caused one of the most memorable scenes of the film.

It's camera angles that cause some of the best moments for me. Lars' hammer head flies off while he's nailing new shingles on the wall, causing a bucket to fall off the roof onto Ernie. Yeah. The way the camera lazily pans over the edge on a slight curve to look down on him on the ground with the bucket on his head? Man. Caesar being dragged through the floor is pretty funny on its own, but the close-up of the side of his head half-in the floor, moving relentlessly forward, is ridiculously funny. It's such an unusual, absurd scene. It's the kind of thing I could imagine and write, but seeing it is another crazy thing altogether. Add in his weird headgear too.

There's no doubt that the mouse was computer-generated half the time. It changes colour and fur all the time. Otherwise the film has an interesting backdrop. I would think it takes place in the late 1970s (Ernie notes that the house, being built in 1876, is a centennial, so therefore a hundred years old) yet it even says on Wikipedia that it has an 'indeterminate time period between the 1940s and 1970s.' I could see their wardrobe dating from the forties. The acting is pretty good, especially Maury Chaykin and Vicki Lewis. I base that off the way they're both so different from other roles they've done. In Chaykin's case, I think of Twins from 1988. The nine-year age difference aside, Burt Klane and Alexander Falco are not close to the same person even in looks to me. Probably the mark of a good character actor. And as I've noted before, Lewis couldn't be more different from Beth in NewsRadio. It's kind of funny because when I first saw the cast photo of the show - long before I saw the show itself, which I've gotten back into, hugely - I immediately pictured her as a sarcastic, pompous character more in common with Jennifer from WKRP thanks to the April character on Mousehunt (which at that time was the only other place I was aware of seeing her). What kind of gets me is that April seems a lot older than she is with all that greed and pomposity, whereas Beth seems closer to my age with her more playful, quick-witted presence in the radio station. When one of the Belgian hairdressers' hair catches fire, she pulls that satisfied, condescending smirk off perfectly.

To avoid doing what I did with my reviews on Matilda (in which I over-examined things that weren't particularly relevant for a family film as those "things" are usually what make it work) I'm just going to leave it there. It has a healthy amount of the absurd (in that it doesn't go to far for me, it makes some small kind of sense, and yet you get it immediately in the first scene) it pulls off all its storylines all right, the acting is great (I obviously have a bigger thing for redheads than for that type) and it's still great to watch again at my advanced adult age of twenty-three.

Story: B+
Comedy: A
Acting: A-

Red Cloud
"

Thursday, July 17, 2014

One Direction

I purposely typed in that title to see if you actually thought I was going to write about that boy band put together by that judgmental British record executive that holds court on that American remake of the British vocal competition program. Nah. I wouldn't "go in that direction" on this blog. My review would say "not interested" and "no grade applicable" as I haven't bothered to listen and I'm not going to prejudicially make things up.

It's hundreds of times more serious a topic I'm going to venture into. And for purposes of individuality and privacy, I'm not going in too deep.

It appears that part of the family unit has broken apart. My paternal grandparents had five children. All of them grew up and created families of their own. In my father's case, I came along, and an alternative situation (at the time, and these days not really alternative at all anymore) was created. He continued on and had two other children with his wife, a native of a west African country. These two came along fifteen & thirteen years ago.

There's no internal issue. It's a matter between my father's family and my grandparents plus my aunt, his parents and younger sister, and now I find myself the only connection. My father left for Jordan in February. He's been stationed at the Embassy in Iraq for a couple of years, while his wife and children reside in Jordan. It's a diplomatic post. They've returned to Ottawa for a month's vacation and for my half-brother and sister to see their friends and family, but now, where family is concerned, that virtually just means me, perhaps (maybe) my two uncles and their children, my & their cousins.

This was the year my birthday went on interminably, it seems, because I spent my actual birthday at my maternal grandparents' playing cards with them, and then, weeks later, I went to my paternal grandparents' to have a dinner for the same occasion, which was ruined by the incident that led to this likely never-ending separation. Other than a trip to the Lonestar Texan grille with a friend of mine, which I considered a part of it, I had a final celebration (to my surprise) yesterday at the rental suite my father and his family are living in, yesterday. Dinner and a cake - which I hadn't had in all the prior occasions. I was really surprised.

In the end, I'm just grateful that I haven't personally lost anything as a result of this. I still have a dad. I still have a half-brother and a half-sister. They may never see their grandparents and aunt again, but I still can. It's extremely unfortunate and needless and painful - for both sides - and no doubt it's kind of life-changing. They're heading in one direction - away.

Thank god I've still got them.

Red Cloud
"

The White Keys

Before I go on to the sharps/flats, let me just put all of what I've done here together:

C Major/Minor: A Good Kid/The Intellectual Worrier
D Major/Minor: The Kind & Considerate Friend/Ms. Bored & Mundane
E Major/Minor: Mr. Out-of-this-world/The Disappointed One
F Major/Minor: The Impatient Achiever/The Anxious Recluse
G Major/Minor: Man of Reason & Comfort/Mr. Forlorn Nostalgia
A Major/Minor: The Quiet Nurturer/The Down-on-his-luck Immigrant
B Major/Minor: The Sweet Introvert/The Romantic/Endearing Pessimist
--

None of those articles have the names I've given them right there, but they fit. I think it's pretty interesting to lay all of this down in words because I can see it visually in front of me, organized and proper. And none of that applies to each of their corresponding scales - just the major and minor chords.

Looking at all of that at once, it's obvious all the minors are, if not in some way negative, boring. D, F minor, and B are female while the rest are male. If it seems that the boys outnumber the girls now, it won't stay that way; C#, D#, F# and G# are all feminine, with A# being the only masculine chord to me. So in the end the ratio is actually 11:12 (more girls than boys).

I'm going to begin C# major/minor either tomorrow or the next day.

Red Cloud
"

Monday, July 14, 2014

B Major/Minor

Well, this is the last (seventh) white key note, the last note in the C major scale, before I start on the sharps/flats. This is the note/chord I have quite a crush on.

If you read what I have below about major/minor differences on the previous posts, go ahead and skip this - it's just for newcomers reading this.

A note on major/minor:
There is an obvious difference between a major and a minor. Wikipedia naturally describes a minor chord has differing "from a major chord in having a minor third above the root instead of a major third." In other words, the third key from the first on a keyboard (not in the chord or scale) would simply be moved a key to the left. In C major, the notes are C-E-G. E is three keys from C; move one key to the left and you're now on E flat or D sharp. Hence C minor. The "minor third" just means the third note in a minor scale.
Ear-wise, the difference is also obvious because minor chords sound darker and moody and tentative while major chords are bright and happy and powerful in contrast. If you've heard any sad songs, they're likely built around a minor scale progression and use minor chords. 'Not Home Today' uses mostly minor chords (E minor and B minor) and is a song about an unfortunate circumstance, with a doom-filled ending. 'Around the Bend' uses largely major chords and is a happy song about friendship and good times. Of course, not all songs operate this way - 'I'm Sorry' by The Payolas has bright chords yet talks about a sellout musician. 'Alive' by Pearl Jam has what people have referred to as an anthemic sound, with great strong major guitar chords and progressions, yet it's about a man who discovers his father died long ago and his mother is virtually attracted to him thanks to his resemblance to his father.


Inversions

The thing about inversions - where the root note is not the lowest or first note played in the chord - is that it's all the same for every chord major or minor: It's either darker or brighter, in terms of colour as well as personality (though slightly, and it's perhaps more on the main personalities' view or opinion or feeling on something).


Major


Colour: Pale aqua with hints of white and green
Light: From behind, gentle
Spatial Direction: Southeast
Gender: Feminine

B major is listed as "The Artist" in The Signature series. To me, she's the gentle, quiet but bright one. A major was the girl-next-door in its episode, but for me B major fits that image perfectly. She's introverted but friendly, quiet but open and exciting with her closest friends, etc. She's not necessarily "looking for something better," as she is looking for someone suitable and matching. She doesn't have high or impossible standards like the A major in its episode. To me, she's beautiful, open-minded, and contemplative. She's also considerate and very accepting, but again, also introverted and not immediately open to people, similar to A major. She's like D major without the knowing everyone aspect, and could be D major's sidekick or best friend. I don't really know anyone who fits this personality other than the girl I've most associated that note with over the past year thanks to that 'Year of the Cat' song (which made me realize all the other instances she'd popped up when an instrument played that note/chord in previous songs). That's not totally right or true, though, because what my mind has made up of her personality makes up for more of what I see than what I remember in person that was good or obvious. So, no one. For songs, 'Can't Get There From Here' by R.E.M. uses a main guitar riff in the verses based on B major and E major. 'Rasputin' by Boney M. relies on B major throughout the entire song, exemplified obviously in the strings almost constantly. B major is the dominant note in E major, so songs will often go from E major to B major (such as the chorus of 'Rio' by Duran Duran). 'Cosmetics' by Gowan uses a main keyboard riff, during the verses, that goes B major - C# major. B major is sustained quite a bit. The phrase 'girl next door' is used in the song as well.

Minor

Colour: Brown
Light: Dim, more colour
Spatial Direction: East
Gender: Feminine

The Signature Series uses only a couple of pop songs in only a couple of their episodes, the B minor one being an example. It's the "Dark Romantic" and I listened to it second after G minor. My interest in it was such that I couldn't go through each episode chronologically. The song used is 'Hotel California' by The Eagles, which starts on B minor immediately, in the intro.

B minor is the chord I have the biggest crush on. It's so romantically vulnerable. Aside from the CBC production, I've read on Wikipedia that it has a negative view from composers over the centuries. It's seen as 'submissive,' taking events or situations, good or particularly bad, without complaint. I asked my co-worker Brian what he thought of when he heard the chord, and he said the same thing - submissiveness.

I don't see it as submissive, but I do see it as brooding, pessimistic, and fatalistic. She can be hurt without too much effort. On the other hand, she is the most endearing, truthful, caring person of all. She has nurturing instincts similar to A major's. She's not socially out there, and her personality isn't something people will get close to easily, but when she does open up, that care is obvious. She has a pale, unmarked, smooth face which is generally round, and very dark hair. Green eyes. I see my type in girls in this chord, as well as my paternal aunt - who as a teen actually facially fit this type (probably where I got it from). But I get what I think of her personality as well, which isn't so extreme, but can be pessimistic or negative. And considering she looks and sounds virtually identical to my grandmother, she too can fit this chord. Not many pop songs probably use this chord, other than 'Hotel California' obviously. The main verse of 'World Leader Pretend' by R.E.M. alternates between E minor and B minor. I realize I tend to be using the same song titles over and over because when I look at my big list for reference, I find that I don't know the instrumentation for a lot more songs than I thought I did.

Ending this first round, B major/minor is definitely a chord I'd want to date and be with. They're both appealing to me extremely, and minor is just so beautiful and amazing. I just want to make her feel perfect. It's my natural inclination as an A major chord.

Red Cloud
"

Sunday, July 13, 2014

A Major/Minor

This is a nice chord, one of my favourites (along with Bm/min, Gm, Dm, C#m, Emin and A#m). Of all the chords, sharp/flat, major and minor, this is the one I peg myself as.

If you read what I have below about major/minor differences on the previous posts, go ahead and skip this - it's just for newcomers reading this.

A note on major/minor:
There is an obvious difference between a major and a minor. Wikipedia naturally describes a minor chord has differing "from a major chord in having a minor third above the root instead of a major third." In other words, the third key from the first on a keyboard (not in the chord or scale) would simply be moved a key to the left. In C major, the notes are C-E-G. E is three keys from C; move one key to the left and you're now on E flat or D sharp. Hence C minor. The "minor third" just means the third note in a minor scale.
Ear-wise, the difference is also obvious because minor chords sound darker and moody and tentative while major chords are bright and happy and powerful in contrast. If you've heard any sad songs, they're likely built around a minor scale progression and use minor chords. 'Not Home Today' uses mostly minor chords (E minor and B minor) and is a song about an unfortunate circumstance, with a doom-filled ending. 'Around the Bend' uses largely major chords and is a happy song about friendship and good times. Of course, not all songs operate this way - 'I'm Sorry' by The Payolas has bright chords yet talks about a sellout musician. 'Alive' by Pearl Jam has what people have referred to as an anthemic sound, with great strong major guitar chords and progressions, yet it's about a man who discovers his father died long ago and his mother is virtually attracted to him thanks to his resemblance to his father.


Inversions

The thing about inversions - where the root note is not the lowest or first note played in the chord - is that it's all the same for every chord major or minor: It's either darker or brighter, in terms of colour as well as personality (though slightly, and it's perhaps more on the main personalities' view or opinion or feeling on something).


Major

Colour: Grass green. Particularly my memory of the green grass in the courtyard from my childhood in Parkwood Hills.
Light: From behind. Moderately lit - not bright nor dark.
Spatial Direction: East, typically.
Texture: Hard to describe. Not "grassy." Same as the pixels on our old TV (mother bought it in 1986). But horizontal as those pixels were more rectangular-shaped, vertically.
Gender: Masculine

On The Signature Series, A major was feminine and portrayed as the bouncy, cute, sweet girl-next-door. You'd be charmed by her, but she'd always be looking for someone better, while on the move. The episode called it the "willow-the-wisp."

To me, A major is a shy, but bright person. Bright as in, he's not sad or down, but while he can have negative inclinations, he'll put a smile on his face more often than not. He has a mildly adventurous vision of things but tends not to actually be too adventurous in real-life - he's more of a dreamer. Very grounded, and thinks in concrete terms. He's not a leader, but he's also not much of a follower, tending to be more of an independent. He can be stoic - he often looks that way - but underneath he has a lot of hidden sensitivities that just haven't had a chance to come out as the right person to see it hasn't come along yet. He has a very strong sense of emotion and feeling, but it doesn't always show easily. One thing he does know, though, is that when he pairs up with someone, friend or more, that person will get the most consistent help, advice, and care. He cares about their well-being. He's quiet, but he has an endearing quality that's hardly matched. I tend to see myself as A major because I am similarly quiet and stoic-looking most of the time, but in my heart my close friends deserve best. While I may not have had a real girlfriend before (yeah, yeah) the one out west knows very well how immediate I tend to be with my encouragement and caring positivity. I know that making those I care about is what fulfills me, and that's A major. The verses of 'Steal my Sunshine' by Len start with A major (and end on B major). 'I Ran (So Far Away)' by A Flock of Seagulls, while not using the chord in particular, mostly stays on A throughout the whole song. 'Radio Silence' by Blue Peter starts on and remains mostly on A. 'Magic' by The Cars starts on A as well. I first felt that I was similar to A major thanks to another Cars song, 'You Are The Girl,' which has an obvious keyboard/bass bit where both just sustain an A for a second or two. I saw myself perfectly - I had a hard expression on my face, of waiting for an answer on something exciting. Like the question had been "are we taking this trip together?" and it had been to a girl. It's a good chord.

Minor

Colour: Brown/green
Light: From behind, but very dim
Spatial Direction: East, northeast
Texture: Smooth
Gender: Masculine

A minor was the "Faded Beauty" on The Signature Series, the older woman who'd let life pass her by but never found a partner (she never settled - she could be the future version of the girl-next-door, having never found anything 'better.')

A minor is like the immigrant who came to this country as a refugee, and has as a result lived a displaced, hard life. It's not uncommon for him to bring up how difficult it had been for him years ago, coming to this country with only twenty dollars in his pocket, establishing himself, starting a business while fretting over relatives still in Germany or Hungary, wherever. I got this image and personality the first time I played A minor as a triad, each note separately. This was after I'd played the sunny-by-contrast D major as a triad. I saw a balding barber, short with an apron, bowing, looking down in front of his shop on the road. This is what he has to deal with, the trials of this life, the hardships, the difficulties. Taking away the immigrant scenario (as A minor isn't specifically an immigrant but a personality) he is the kind of person who is very aware of his disadvantages and very set in them. He knows what he can and can't do. He's very cautious financially. He's accepted that life is this way for him, and he can't change. He knows he's at some sort of disadvantage, but that's his life and he just has to deal with it. As a result he has a very subdued personality. 'Echo Beach' (yes, that song again) in particular uses an A minor chord during the verses. 'Losing my Religion' by R.E.M. uses mostly minor chords, starting each verse in A minor. I don't know who to think of that would match this chord - any refugee in North America from the 20th century maybe? Those who came from difficult childhoods? Maybe my deceased old friend Myles, who decided for himself that he wouldn't have mattered or gone anywhere in life, and ensured that was a reality - though that's a bit of an extreme example.

A major is a shy, seemingly stoic, but deeply caring and meaningful chord, A minor knows his disadvantages and points them out, living them as reality. Either way, they're both good chords, and work well with D major/minor; A major is the dominant chord of D major (A is the fifth note played, completing D major/minor) so it's common in pop music for A to be the next key or note after D. They'd have an awesome relationship, those two personalities, and while I do like D major a lot, my personal focus really seems to on B major/minor - which I'll do tomorrow. I wonder if I should try doing a relationship compatibility chart, as Am would be compatible with Dm & Bm/Bmin. Dm would be compatible with Am, Gm, & Cm. But that's a project for another time.

Red Cloud
"

Friday, July 11, 2014

G Major/Minor

G is the fifth chord in the C major scale, so I'm almost there. After B, I'll start with all the flats/sharps.

If you read what I have below about major/minor differences on the previous posts, go ahead and skip this - it's just for newcomers reading this.

A note on major/minor:
There is an obvious difference between a major and a minor. Wikipedia naturally describes a minor chord has differing "from a major chord in having a minor third above the root instead of a major third." In other words, the third key from the first on a keyboard (not in the chord or scale) would simply be moved a key to the left. In C major, the notes are C-E-G. E is three keys from C; move one key to the left and you're now on E flat or D sharp. Hence C minor. The "minor third" just means the third note in a minor scale.
Ear-wise, the difference is also obvious because minor chords sound darker and moody and tentative while major chords are bright and happy and powerful in contrast. If you've heard any sad songs, they're likely built around a minor scale progression and use minor chords. 'Not Home Today' uses mostly minor chords (E minor and B minor) and is a song about an unfortunate circumstance, with a doom-filled ending. 'Around the Bend' uses largely major chords and is a happy song about friendship and good times. Of course, not all songs operate this way - 'I'm Sorry' by The Payolas has bright chords yet talks about a sellout musician. 'Alive' by Pearl Jam has what people have referred to as an anthemic sound, with great strong major guitar chords and progressions, yet it's about a man who discovers his father died long ago and his mother is virtually attracted to him thanks to his resemblance to his father.


Inversions

The thing about inversions - where the root note is not the lowest or first note played in the chord - is that it's all the same for every chord major or minor: It's either darker or brighter, in terms of colour as well as personality (though slightly, and it's perhaps more on the main personalities' view or opinion or feeling on something).

Major

Colour: Golden Brown, but a deeper, warmer tone than F minor. The colour of mashed turnips.
Light: Dimmer, autumn light, later in the year, late in the afternoon.
Spatial Direction: East
Texture: Syrupy
Gender: Masculine

I unfortunately mixed the episode of G major in the Signature Series with F major yesterday. G major is referred to as the "trusty sidekick" - exactly how I described it in the F major article. I probably missed the F major episode altogether and saw the title as referring to the same thing.

G major is comfortable. He's always been laid back, easy-going, and kind. Though D major would have a great relationship with A major, she'd get along equally as well with G major. I tend to picture a grandfatherly man who has young grandchildren and a nice house full of big rooms and adventure for the children. He's wise and down to earth, in a way that C, F and A major would be, but not necessarily always. He's the mediator, the level-headed reasonable person. I'd put my own paternal grandfather in this chord, especially with his past career as a diplomat, which fits the 'man of reason' and gentle kindness perfectly. G major makes me actually think of Thanksgiving with its colour, the autumn, the late afternoon sunshine, the colourful trees and the food you'd find at a Thanksgiving dinner, like pumpkin pie and turnips, etc. The pie and the turnips really form the colour of the major chord for me. I don't really find a lot of pop music begins (from the beginning) on G major, though the chorus of 'Not Home Today' by Madness relies on that chord as well as a sustained second version of it on the piano. G major is played and sustained on the guitar during the chorus of 'Echo Beach' by Martha and the Muffins (before up-stroking twice on D major). The chorus of 'Major Tom' by Peter Schilling (not David Bowie) begins on G major (and goes to D also). All of the choruses I've just mentioned go from G to D. D major is the dominant chord in relation to G major - the chord itself consists of G, B and D, D being the final and fifth note away from G, so its contributing pitch to the chord is the dominant one as it's five steps above - so it makes sense that these choruses would go from the root to the dominant chord. G major is just kind and comfortable and easy to get along with.

Minor

Colour: Traffic light yellow
Light: Afternoon, shone on from the right in front.
Spatial Direction: South East (I look at it more as west though, hence the light from the right)
Texture: None
Gender: Masculine

The Signature Series listed this as 'The Contrarian,' someone who was always on hard times. G minor was actually the very first episode I listened to. Struggles along.

This is more like the guy who does not like goodbyes. He's melancholy in his yearning for people he doesn't see. He also has a self-fulfilling prophecy problem, wherein he worries until the source of those worries comes to pass, and then he accepts that while feeling sad that his old friend moved away. He lives in the past a lot, remembering good times with people, and that makes it hard for him to move on. G minor has similarity in sound and colour to F minor, but brighter, so that while he's a similar colour, I see him in a southeast direction when not applying context to him, which I tend to do. Usually I think of 'Misunderstanding' by Genesis when I think of this chord, as it immediately follows A minor, giving me that west direction and traffic light yellow. Otherwise it also features (in its proper melancholic context) in 'Our House' by Madness, the second chord played after C major in the verses, and the final chord played in the Dm-Amin-Emin-Gmin chorus. You can really hear its forlorn sadness there, because it sounds reminiscing of the past. I can't really think of anyone I ever knew or know that was like that other than students in my classes during high school that didn't do the work, worried about it, and still didn't do it, and failed. But think of those fictional characters on television who show up in one episode as an "old high school friend" or "old college roommate" of the main character. Those one-off characters stereotypically spend the episode reminiscing or playing childish jokes on the main character, having never grown up or moved on from those fun times. Then it turns out that they are simply melancholy and sad that the best days are over. There's your G minor.

Root Note


I stopped referring to the root note in my other articles because it largely gives me similar attributes (trimmed down) of the major chord, but I want to mention it here as a low-end version. What I mean is that I'm talking about these chords as they are played just to the right of Middle C (or Middle C in C major/minor's case) so in the middle of the piano, not high up or low down. Obviously every colour and usually texture changes as you play A C or a D or whatever an octave higher, or two octaves higher or lower. I wanted to outline that G as a note on its own, and lower (like on a bass) really shines out the 'down-to-earth' trait. It's super reasonable and level-headed. It's the most objective personality in the room. I first noted that when I heard it played low in 'Where's the Love' by Hanson (one song that does start on G, usually higher on the bass, but now and then during the song, quite low).

Looking forward to doing A major/minor. I've already talked about it a little in the past so it should be interesting to delve deeper.

Red Cloud
"

Pure Bliss

I'm interrupting my ongoing chord personality series for this topic that I'm riled on at the moment.

Is it often that pure bliss, pure euphoria, pure happiness is achieved?

I had a bit of a lengthy talk with my mother earlier about how my synesthesia works, because she's putting together a manuscript on her perspective of raising a son with Asperger's and synesthesia - with my input and response within the finished thing. It wasn't especially difficult explaining what I see and how I see it and why I see it as it was trying to get someone else to understand.

I guess you can't talk musical notes and scales and thirds and fifths and whatever to those who don't study music, or listen to a song and dissect it immediately. According to my mother, most people don't even listen to most of the instruments but rather everything at once with a focus on the lyrics. No paying attention to how anything sounds, just that it sounds good in general.

Listening to music is one thing, trying to explain how I interpret and comprehend verbal speech, reaction and thinking is another altogether. When you say something to me, if the word is a simple one, it might visually appear in my mind as written, but more often than not it's translated into a raw form with texture, direction, and colour mostly specific to the speaker's voice. And nothing stays the same because you don't say something again in the exact, precise tone of voice and inflection and pitch as you did the first time so the result is mildly different. That's why music is simpler, because it's a recording. You hear everything in a song the same as you did the first time. I pick up differences instantaneously.

I tried using music as an example. I used 'World Leader Pretend.' I tried simplifying it by only playing hardly a second of the beginning, which is the guitar playing E minor. Just that E minor, nothing else. I asked her what she thought when she heard it. She said, "the beginning." The beginning of the song. What did I see? The surprised neediness and yearning of the E minor chord. The resultant synesthetic backdrop. I played her the transition to B minor. She didn't even notice the way the notes bounced around D and F#, just that it ended on B (according to me). Those notes all occur within a second or so. You see how minutely I pick out things.

By the end of the whole talk, she couldn't understand how I could have such a complicated mind and perspective. The sound of one's voice, the synesthetic forms of words and speech and comprehending them, the half-second long pieces of music I get entire personalities, stories, feelings, and ideologies out of. It just works. I do ignore a lot of things, of course - the backdrop of texture and colour coming at me from ambient noise is just background filler, like the background of a drawing, and the mental comprehension of speech takes as long as anyone to hear, translate, comprehend, and respond - less than a second, depending on what is said.

I did ascertain that virtually everything gives me a positive synesthetic feeling, particularly music or sounds I like, and that the personalities I see are more created by my mind than who they really are - and if they turn out in reality not to be who they are in my mind, I just retain some nice image anyway, most of the time. But then there's the pure bliss - something I managed to achieve a short while ago.

It's that state where everything is so sky-high, so perfect and precise and right. You feel good all over, euphoric, joyful. And all I did was take that part of 'Roam' I like so much, and slow it down in Audition without altering the pitch.

I used to feel a similar way when I slowed down 'In the City' but not nearly as much. Then there was the 'Wouldn't it be Good' song by Nik Kershaw, with the keyboards and bass. That did give me quite an amazing feeling. Here, it was the intonation, inflection, and pitch of the lyric 'wilderness' - precisely on the 'ness' - that gave it to me perfectly.

My cuing into the G the guitar plays (in place of the A) in that ending refrain really boosted it as well because the G sounds a lot more like it's on to something really exciting. You've got your anticipation in it. Slowed down, it suddenly gave me a direct image of that familiar face, looking kindly on, also anticipating perhaps - and then the intonation of the 'ness.' Pure nirvana right there.

It's such an awesome thing that I'm grateful for having. My physical reaction was my hitting my head against the wall behind it, in a sort of jolt of glee. What a high.

What a brilliant high.

I'll get on G major/minor tomorrow.

Red Cloud
"

Thursday, July 10, 2014

F Major/Minor

F is one of those notes, like C and B, where the white key on a piano isn't separated by a black sharp/flat key from the key before it, E, yet only proceeds a half-step higher, one semitone. As I noted, I'm following C major - which uses only white keys and has no flats or sharps, which I think is unique to that scale. A major scale's progression has two half-steps in it, one on the third and another on the seventh steps. F is the third key from C (this is the fourth article on a note including C) so it all works.

If you read what I have below about major/minor differences on the previous posts, go ahead and skip this - it's just for newcomers reading this.

A note on major/minor:
There is an obvious difference between a major and a minor. Wikipedia naturally describes a minor chord has differing "from a major chord in having a minor third above the root instead of a major third." In other words, the third key from the first on a keyboard (not in the chord or scale) would simply be moved a key to the left. In C major, the notes are C-E-G. E is three keys from C; move one key to the left and you're now on E flat or D sharp. Hence C minor. The "minor third" just means the third note in a minor scale.
Ear-wise, the difference is also obvious because minor chords sound darker and moody and tentative while major chords are bright and happy and powerful in contrast. If you've heard any sad songs, they're likely built around a minor scale progression and use minor chords. 'Not Home Today' uses mostly minor chords (E minor and B minor) and is a song about an unfortunate circumstance, with a doom-filled ending. 'Around the Bend' uses largely major chords and is a happy song about friendship and good times. Of course, not all songs operate this way - both 'Heart and Soul' (T'Pau) and 'Crying Shame' use upbeat, bright chords mixed with sad or yearning lyrics, one about a distant relationship, and the other about a failed, betrayed one.


InversionsThe thing about inversions - where the root note is not the lowest or first note played in the chord - is that it's all the same for every chord major or minor: It's either darker or brighter, in terms of colour as well as personality (though slightly, and it's perhaps more on the main personalities' view or opinion or feeling on something).

Major

Colour: A paler golden yellow, similar to perhaps McDonalds fries.
Light: From the left, afternoon sun.
Spatial direction: East (on their own I think all of them are generally east)
Texture: Lined texture in a leftward slant downwards.
Gender: Masculine

I'm not sure I watched the episode on F major in the Signature Series, but it labels it as the 'perfect companion,' which I remember hearing about. I recall the narrator likening it to famous sidekicks like Robin from Batman, or Ron Weasley out of Harry Potter.

This guy is not nearly as high up as E major would be. In fact this may go to show that majors aren't always super positive just as minors aren't always super sad. This guy is not particularly negative, but he can be overly focused on things he has to do, things he has to get done. He has to get somewhere, keep moving, he's somewhat impatient. He doesn't like beating around the bush, but he isn't cold either. He's probably more like the nerdy type, but not in a geeky way, just in his choice of activities - the gifted program, the Reach For the Top club, etc. He's interested in computer-related careers like programming or development and can be friends with C major, who is also down to earth and bright. The only big downfall is his impatience. I should note that C minor is the one who makes up issues and worries about failing, whereas F major doesn't, he's just starved for time, has to memorize binary code and the periodic table, etc. I think if I could pick an astrological sign to align with this chord's personality, he'd be a capricorn. Of the few songs I can think of, 'Go For a Soda' by Kim Mitchell relies heavily on F on the bass during the verses (F and E) and 'Enid' by BNL starts on F at the beginning of each main verse. I can think of several different people I've known in the past that applies to this personality very well - such as an old 'friend' I had in high school who was particularly pompous and exclusive, that girl I had a long-distance 'relationship' with out west (she once skipped class to online chat with me and then immediately chose to study over that altogether) and my cousin Jamie, who is hoping to enter medical school soon. All academic or studious types, all obsessed with the work they have to do.

Minor

Colour: Golden brown/yellow, as if those fries were overcooked. Maybe some white as well.
Light: Same as Major, afternoon light from the left
Spatial direction: East
Texture: Fluid-like.
Gender: Feminine

This is the only chord in which the minor is feminine. The rest all have the same gender between minor and major. I don't believe I watched the episode on this one, but it listed it as "the fighter."

This was a girl born with anxiety. I tend to think of her as a frightened, perhaps even traumatized older woman. Very likely reclusive. She's the one who had a terrible time in high school, who had literally no friends and was an outsider. Maybe she was picked on as well, and she no doubt had anxiety issues, perhaps social as well as general. Unfortunately she took every mean thing directed at her to heart, so she ended up working alone in a tiny cubicle at a temp agency in her prime doing the blandest things until she inherited a lot of money, went home, and stayed there. She has nephews and nieces that she enjoys seeing but she's still quirky and obviously uncertain all of the time. She has irrational fears that prevent her from really getting out there, which is unfortunate because she doesn't have a bad character and has her own beauty. Her self-image and view of people and the world is tender, which was likely caused and helped by her mean-spirited peers in school. Hardly any confidence. Thankfully I can't really think of anyone I knew who was like that, other than a girl in a class I had this past semester who was quiet and extremely tentative, and a few fictional characters I've read in books - such as Nora Devon and her aunt in the Dean Koontz book Watchers (my second-favourite book of all time). I have no songs to offer here. I don't think many use that chord unless they're a really painful or sad song. I tend to find that F major or minor in general tend to be used within a song but not to start it or direct it, or end it because it's one of those chords that sound anticipating of the next change (the whole impatience thing).

Well, either late tonight or around tomorrow, I'll write up on G major/minor.

Red Cloud
"